Gigi Datome, President of the Euroleague Players Association and Captain of the Italian National team, talked to Future Stars about the complexity of European basketball, his NBA journey, and the last five years of titles and success with Fenerbahce.
Referring to what Euroleague teams should do in order to upgrade the quality of the game in the future, Datome said:
“You don’t need to be a genius to understand that the game should create the profit. This means engaging more fans, bringing more fans to the arenas, playing more games, more quality games, basketball should be shown on more TV channels and basketball players should participate in more advertising campaigns. Clubs should build their own identity of course that relates also to the players who should have much more higher profiles in the popular culture. I touched on it before but I think the development of young players is massively neglected at the present.”
Datome is one of the players coming from Europe that have played in the NBA and as he says this journey was very effective for him:
“It was effectively my first opportunity to go to the NBA and I decided that I really want to learn and try something new and exciting. I don’t regret choosing Detroit which at that time seemed to me was the best fit. However, I was very glad when I was traded to Boston where I had a chance to show my skills and feel like a true NBA player. I have great memories from Boston. After these two years I was drawing some interest from NBA clubs but my point of view changed drastically. With the NBA clubs my main concern was to get as much court time as possible while with Fenerbahce the aim was to win.”
He also talked about the experience working with a big coaching name like Zeljko Obradovic:
“He was the main reason why I returned to Europe. It was something incredibly attractive and charming for me to join Fenerbahce. It was an incredibly tough challenge for me especially considering that I have never played for a Euroleague team challenging for the highest honours. I love the role which coach Obradovic has designed for me and I’m very glad that I was able fulfil this role for five years with incredible results. Four consecutive Final Fours, winning Euroleague, a total of nine trophies both domestically and internationally these are enormous achievements. I’m very proud that we became one of the best European clubs. I’m also very honoured by the fact that I was chosen by Fenerbahce and I’m very glad that I’m still there.”